Big data comes with big risks, but the right strategy means big rewards

Canadian businesses recognize the value of data, but struggle with adequate protection measures

Andre Valiquette, Canadian Channel Chief at Dell EMC Canada

By: Andre Valiquette, Canadian Channel Chief at Dell EMC Canada

Collecting and analyzing data helps businesses work smarter, improve customer service and increase profitability. From a global perspective, businesses recognize the power of data, and its collection is increasing at an exponential rate. This is particularly true in Canada where, as uncovered in Dell EMC’s third annual Global Data Protection Index, Canadian companies are on average collecting more data than their global counterparts. With this, however, comes increasing risks and Canadian companies need to take the right steps to protect their growing stockpiles of digital information.


Canada is all about data

The Global Data Protection Index shows the extent to which the value of data collection and protection is being realized by businesses around the world. We engaged Vanson Bourne to survey 2,200 IT decision makers from both public and private companies with 250+ employees across 11 industries and 18 countries – including Canada – about the maturity of their data protection strategies in 2018. The results showed that Canadian businesses managed 11.45PB of data in 2018 – higher than the global average of 9.70PB, and an astronomical increase of 941% compared to 2016.

But, does collecting more data mean that Canada is also extracting more value from it? Not necessarily. The difference between us and our peers around the world will be seen in how we use that data to make our businesses better, especially the steps we take to protect it.


Canadian businesses see value, but worry about security

The survey found that while Canadian businesses have no doubts about the value of data and its power to transform, they are unsure about whether their current protection measures will be able to keep up.

Some interesting findings from the survey:


  • 97% of Canadian businesses see the potential value of data, with 33% already monetizing it (the global average is 92% of businesses with 36% monetizing).
  • More than a third (34%) of Canadian respondents are very confident that their data protection infrastructure is compliant with existing regulations, 1% shy of the global average.
  • However, only 11% believe their data protection solutions will meet all future challenges, lower than the global average of 16%.
  • 72% of Canadian businesses experienced a disruption in the last 12 months, and 16% experienced irreparable data loss (globally, 76% experienced data loss with 27% experiencing irreparable loss).

Growing concerns over data protection are certainly warranted. Without adequate protection, data losses can cost businesses much more than unplanned system downtimes, which are far more prevalent. Of the 33% of Canadian businesses that have experienced data loss in the last 12 months at survey time, the average cost of each loss was over $1 million.


Addressing data protection challenges


The majority of Canadian respondents (88%) face at least one challenge in relation to data protection. The top three challenges include:

  • The lack of data protection solutions for emerging technologies (ranked 2nd globally)
  • Ensuring compliance with regulations like GDPR (ranked 3rd globally)
  • Ballooning costs of storing and managing backup copies due to rapid data growth ranked first (ranked 1st globally)

For Canadian businesses with limited resources, addressing these challenges can seem daunting, but they must realize that the more reliant they become on their data, the more at-risk they are of losing money from data loss. Disruption incidents are occurring frequently, including an increasing amount of irreversible data loss, so action is imperative.

Additionally, businesses need to consider the data-related demands of their customers who want all the benefits of data collection – such as more personalized service – but only if the privacy of their sensitive digital information is secure. Data breaches are becoming ever more frequent, and we have seen the very public results, which can be incredibly damaging.

These challenges will only compound as new technologies emerge, and the power of data continues to grow.


Proceeding with caution

How can businesses ensure that they are making smart decisions as they dip their toes deeper into the data pool? The below suggestions can help form a solid foundation for a smart strategy:

1) Make the data work: data alone is not inherently valuable – it’s what you do with it that counts. With the right analysis and application of findings to create real change in business processes, businesses can realize the full monetary value of their data.

2) Execute protection measures in tandem: simply focusing on monetization can hurt you. Businesses must ensure they are taking adequate steps to secure their data or risk facing significant loss of private information and revenue, not to mention the wrath of displeased customers.

3) Don’t be afraid to ask for help: Businesses don’t always have the resources or inhouse talent to do data right, nor do they have to. An experienced technology partner can help maximize data value and implement appropriate protection measures that keep business moving forward and customers satisfied.

Canada is in a position to lead the charge in data collection and protection, but we still have a long way to go. It’s up to us to work together so we can realize the full potential of data and set an example for our peers in the global business community.

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